4 Min ReadLifestyle 21 April 2020
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HELP! Can I Live With Horrible Sex?
Dear Armchair Psychologist
I once had a relationship that was a rollercoaster and a disaster but that had incredible passion and sexual energy. We were soulmates. My current relationship is with a boyfriend who's stable and a great partner. In the beginning, things were great with my current boyfriend, and we had passion/sex around the clock, but now there's no connection. We had sex the other day and he stopped in the middle of it and walked away? He said he wasn't feeling it. I feel like I'm in a relationship with a platonic best friend. How do I figure out what to do and is it ok to keep my options open? I'm so afraid of losing something important to me. Basically, I think I'm in love with two people for different reasons. I'm trying to give what's in front of me more time but I can't deny the other love from the past — and it's louder than ever lately. My ex-BF has a ton of passion and current BF does not — how do I choose?
- My Nightmare Life
Dear My Nightmare Life,
I'm sorry that you're experiencing this dilemma. It's hurtful and easy to take it personally when a partner isn't responding sexually. You say that your current beau isn't interested in sex, but he is otherwise a great partner and that your ex provided a relationship filled with passion but also volatility. There exists a term called hedonic adaptation and many studies have been done on how this term applies to couples. It means "the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes." In short, you only stay happy or passionate for a specific time until you return to where you started. It's applied to what happens to couples' sexual passion when they have moved on from the newer, exciting first phase of a relationship and into a companionate love phase, which is a phase of stability and indifference. Perhaps your current boyfriend is experiencing this?
I've been in relationships before where I begrudged my lovers' stale, routine sex, and began longing for the initial fire and passion — just feeling that things weren't right. Apparently, according to evolutionary science, if we were in the happy, passionate, and sexual stage all the time, we'd never get anything done like work, child-rearing, etc. The brain is essentially hard-wired for variety and surprise. Here's a great study on how to avoid hedonic adaptation.
It's ok to let yourself have nostalgia about the past and also miss someone you once loved. It's also very possible that because of the lack of healthy sex in your current relationship, you're idealizing the connection you had with your ex and neglecting that it was a disastrous relationship. It is also possible your current boyfriend isn't a good match for you and that you lack compatibility. However, you owe it to yourself and to him to have a real dialogue about your grievances and decide to either add some variety and surprise to your love life or just break up. If you decide to work on this relationship, break the routine and visit a qualified therapist together.
- The Armchair Psychologist
HELP! My boyfriend is jealous of my brother!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I've been in a relationship with a wonderful guy for two years. He loves to show me a great time, he takes me to dinners and listens to me, etc. The problem is that whenever I make plans to hang out with my brother, who is one year older than me, he gets jealous. My brother and I are very close, he's one of my best friends, and we always laugh and have a great time together. I've tried to bring my boyfriend around my brother but he acts awkward, jealous, and overprotective. My brother has pointed out how controlling my boyfriend seems after he told me to "simmer down" about a conversation regarding exes. He's even suggested my brother and I are incestuous. I love my boyfriend, but he's really getting on my last nerve. What should I do?
- Family First
Dear Family First,
It's refreshing to hear how much you love your sibling, which is very healthy and ideal. Your boyfriend may be a nice and caring guy, but he has a lot of work to do in regards to his disposition here. I trust that your brother knows you really well; the fact that he's expressed concern about your "controlling" boyfriend is a sign.
Your boyfriend needs to seek counseling with a skilled therapist and get to the bottom of his insecurities. Have a meaningful conversation with him and express how his misgivings are affecting you and that he's driving you away from your family. If he persists, it's time to get a new boyfriend that can love your brother as much as you do!
- The Armchair Psychologist
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This article was originally published September 12, 2019.